Married With Benefits™

1: Why Is He So Interested in Sex?

with Shaunti Feldhahn | April 1, 2019
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Do you long to make deep, heart-to-heart connections with your husband? You might be surprised to learn that he wants the same thing. But his efforts come in disguise. Shaunti Feldhahn and Brian Goins explore the topic of sex and why this simple physical act carries such complex emotional weight for your husband. Understand the difference between assertive desire and receptive desire. Learn what to do when you're tired. Discover why your desire for your husband (not just the physical act of sex) is what delights him and gives him a sense of well-being.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Brian Goins

    Brian and his wife Jen love building into families and eating great food together. They have three children who all want to move to Montana. Brian serves as Sr. Director Special Projects at FamilyLife. He is also the executive producer on an adolescent-focused documentary series called Brain, Heart, World ( aimed at helping change the conversation about pornography in our country and has written Playing Hurt: A Guy’s Strategy for a Winning Marriage.

  • Shaunti Feldhahn

    Shaunti received her graduate degree from Harvard University and was an analyst on Wall Street before unexpectedly becoming a social researcher, best-selling author and popular speaker. Today, she applies her analytical skills to investigating eye-opening, life-changing truths about relationships, both at home and in the workplace. Her groundbreaking research-based books, such as For Women Only, have sold more than 3 million copies in 25 languages and are widely read in homes, counseling centers and corporations worldwide. In 2020, Shaunti, together with her husband Jeff Feldhahn, released Thriving in Love & Money. Little did they know just how timely this book would be as the world suddenly changed and couples needed to be able to talk about money more than ever. While most money books deal with surface issues of budgeting and debt, many couples struggle to even talk about money and it creates tension and a barrier to true oneness in their relationship. This is the money book that’s not about the money. It uncovers the issues that cause money conflicts and provide couples with truths that are relationship game-changers. Because you need a better relationship, not just a better budget. Find out more at Her book, The Kindness Challenge, continues to catalyze a much-needed movement of kindness across the country and beyond. Dozens of prominent organizations and leaders are coming together to do The 30-Day Kindness Challenge, and encourage their followers to do the same. Shaunti’s findings are regularly featured in media as diverse as The Today Show and Focus on the Family, The New York Times and Cosmo. She (often with her husband, Jeff) speak at both live and on-line events in the U.S. and around the world. Shaunti and her husband Jeff live in Atlanta with their daughter and son, and two cats who think they are dogs.

Wives often think their husbands need sex for only physical reasons. Wrong. Shaunti Feldhahn reveals why having his wife’s desire meets a deep emotional need for a husband that will strengthen the bond of marriage and bolster every other area of his life.

MP3 Download Transcript

1: Why Is He So Interested in Sex?

With Shaunti Feldhahn
April 01, 2019

Brian: From the FamilyLife Podcast Network this is Married With Benefits. I’m Brian Goins on a relentless pursuit to help you love the one you’re with and discover all the benefits that came with saying, “I do.”

Ladies, if a Harvard-trained researcher dug into your husband’s brain what do you think she’d find? Don’t answer that. But in the season of Married With Benefits we’ve got best-selling author and Harvard-trained researcher, Shaunti Feldhahn answering questions we know you’re thinking but just aren’t sure who to ask. In fact, this first episode we tackle a big one: Why is my husband is so interested in sex?

Shaunti: I knew you were going to start off with one of the big controversial ones.

Brian: I may as well try to get listeners. We have no listeners to this point. So…

You’ve done some incredible research on this topic. You’re a speaker. You’ve gone out and talked to many women and have heard first-hand about how, especially, the book For Women Only has impacted them; how it really unlocked, I think, a generation of women that were feeling this need: “Man, my husband is like a Pandora’s Box. I don’t know how to open it; I don’t have the key!”

Shaunti: That’s a great image!

Brian: You gave us the key. It’s been out for—what?—ten years now.

Shaunti: Yes, twelve years. Yes.

Brian: Twelve years now, and you said the subtitle, you feel, is what made a real difference.

Shaunti: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: Well, I want to get into what we’re going to talk about today in this podcast. I think about this topic, For Women Only, and just the idea of the questions that every wife tends to ask.

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: Because you wrote the book, but yet there are still questions that come up and things we want to understand. So we want to use this, really, as a launch pad for the questions that come up, whether it’s at conferences that you’re speaking at or that I’m attending. Let’s talk about this!

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: So we’re going to kick it off with, I think, a tantalizing one: Why does my husband seem to always want sex? Now, I say that, and I realize there are women in the audience who are saying, “I wish my husband felt that way.” Right?

Shaunti: Yes, correct.

Brian: So we’re going to talk first—and we’ll address that, maybe, a little later, but we want to talk—to what most women are feeling: “Gosh, it seems like for my husband, that’s all he’s thinking about!”

Shaunti: It’s about 75% of women.

Brian: 75%.

Shaunti: Yes; it depends on the study you look at.

Brian: Okay. So why is that? Do you get that question a lot?

Shaunti: All of the time! I’m sure you guys do, too, you know? Here at FamilyLife.

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: “What it is behind it?” Now any man listening in is thinking, “What do you mean, ‘Why am I so interested in sex!?’” I mean, for a guy, it’s totally self-evident.

Brian: I get it. I can’t explain it, but I feel it.

Shaunti: Exactly. And here is, honestly, the dynamic that we women miss. We just don’t understand it. It’s because we’re wired so differently, which we can talk about.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: Because I think it will be helpful for us to understand the differences between the two of us. Because we’re wired so differently, we automatically have this pretty substantial misunderstanding about what it means to him.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: We think of it as being primarily a physical need.

Brian: Right. “He’s just horny all the time.”

Shaunti: That’s a great way of putting it.

Brian: “Why is he so horny?”

Shaunti: And women say, “I’m tired!!”

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: “I’ve had a really long day.”

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: “Why on earth aren’t you tired?” And Jeff always says—we do these marriage conferences, and he always tells the men when we talk about this subject: “Look! I can be really tired as a guy, but if Shaunti shows the slightest bit of interest, I can rally.”


So we’re thinking, “Why is that?!” You know?

Brian: Take one for the team, Jeff.

Shaunti: Absolutely. All of the guys say, “Yes!” But it really, honestly, becomes (for women) anywhere from puzzling to frustrating to--can we be honest since we’re talking to women?—feeling like a demand; a selfish thing on his part. Now, if a guy were listening to me say that, he’d think, “What!?”

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: Because that feels really bad, and here’s why: it’s because it’s not primarily a physical need for him, although that’s a piece of it that we should probably talk about. But actually, primarily, for him, his need, and what it means to him, is primarily an emotional need; a pretty huge emotional need, actually.

And it’s one that can’t be met any other way. It’s the need that every man has to feel that his wife desires him, and to feel that he is desirable and that she wants him sexually. If he feels, “She desires me. I’m desirable,” it actually really speaks to this self-doubt that we, as women, don’t know is in the heart of most men anyway.

Brian: Yes, I heard somebody say, “Not only do I always feel I’m insecure as a man. I feel I’m desperately insecure.”

Shaunti: Yes. A lot of women say, “What!?” They have a hard time believing you on that.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: And we’ll address that, because that’s a really important thing to explore all on its own. We don’t realize that you big, strong men have that insecurity, but because that’s in there, it really does mean that, “Feeling like my wife desires me” goes straight to the core of that. And, suddenly, it gives him a sense of confidence and this, really, sense of wellbeing, like “Everything is right with the world.”

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: That confidence and that sense of wellbeing is not just in the bedroom where we women might think it is, but it actually translates to how he feels about himself in every other area of his life. We actually found, in the research for this—We should probably explain that this is all based on these big research studies.

Brian: Right. This isn’t just your gut and your intuition.

Shaunti: Right. These are these big, very expensive, long-lasting research studies on men of all demographics; all ages; all religious backgrounds; all races; etc. One of the very common dynamics is that the men said, “You know, what happens in the bedroom absolutely impacts how I feel about myself the next day at the office.”

Brian: Wow! So what you’re saying there is that it’s meeting this need that transcends the bedroom.

Shaunti: Yes, and building him up in a very specific way.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: That is in the bedroom, but it transcends it emotionally.

Brian: Yes, because it’s not like, “Okay, now that I’ve done the act, it’s done.”

Shaunti: Right.

Brian: That’s not really it. “Okay, now’s he’s satisfied.” No! It spills over into every part of life.

Shaunti: Well, this is what I was about to say, but I totally lost the thread.

Brian: Sorry!

Shaunti: No, no; it was my fault. The research—the reason I explained it is that we actually asked the men that question.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: We said, “You know, suppose that your wife offered all the sex that you wanted, but did it kind of as if she were doing it just because she’s married and she kind of has to.” You know?

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: “Would you be satisfied? Would that meet the need?” 97% of men said, “No.”

Brian: Wow.

Shaunti: 97%!

Brian: That’s significant. Don’t they call it “statistically significant?”

Shaunti: Yes, that would be way more than statistically significant! I mean, that’s enormous. That’s almost universal.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: And it basically means that, for us as women, we kind of have to confront a really, really common feeling that we have. It’s really one of those examples of taking every thought captive. It’s really one of those examples of allowing our minds to be transformed. Again, and I hate to say this out loud, but this is all women (except for you).

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: Because it’s all women, we can be really honest. You know, I can’t really say this in quite this way in a marriage conference, because the men would be really depressed to hear this, but there is something in the heart of a woman that sometimes kind of feels like, “Okay, you know what? This is important to him, so I’ll do my duty.”

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: “I know this is important to him.” And it’s important to us, too! It’s just that we’re wired so differently (which we need to talk about).

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: So, “I’ll do my duty.” The men were overwhelmingly like, “Don’t bother.”

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: “Don’t even bother. If you are not engaged in this, and if you can’t put everything aside, to some degree”--which is obviously difficult for us—“and really want to be with me, because you desire me, then, honestly—you know what?—I’d rather be”—One guy said, “I’d rather be out clipping hedges in the freezing rain, honestly, than make love to a wife who seems to be responding out of duty.”

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: When I heard that man say that, it was pretty early on in the research process. I went to Jeff—and I’ll be honest about what I asked him, if you don’t mind using salty language.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: “I don’t get it. He’d still be getting some. What’s the problem?”

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: And Jeff looked at me and said, “You’re right! You’re not getting it. If she’s only responding because she has to, he’s being rejected by his wife. And it’s the deepest form of rejection for a man.” Because it’s not primarily a physical need; because it’s primarily this emotional need.

Brian: I think that’s incredibly significant to think about the idea that, while I’m in the sexual act—our souls are stitched to our bodies—and it feels like a physical act.

Shaunti: Oh, that’s a great way of putting it!

Brian: Well, that’s Tim Kimmel; I can’t take credit for it. I heard it from him. I wish I could take credit for it, but, yes, our souls are stitched to our bodies, and so this idea that this is just a physical act—You know, as a young boy, I think that as I’m growing through puberty and then I start being attracted to women—I think that I want sex. I’m driven by sex, and I think about it all of the time, but, really, what’s driving that desire isn’t sex.

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: That’s what you’re saying. It’s this need to be wanted.

Shaunti: To feel desirable.

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: And that, honestly, is one of the things—which I know is another podcast episode we’re going to get to at some point—“Why would my husband even be attracted by porn in any way?”

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: “He’s this good guy! Why?!” That’s so puzzling to us. This is the reason. It’s because—and this is the way one guy put it, and I loved the way he put it—he said, “It’s like every one of those pictures—very inappropriate, horrible and awful; but every one of those pictures; those pornography pictures—has one message.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: They’re all different, but they’ve got just one message. It’s this sultry, seductive woman who’s looking out through the camera and into your eyes with this stare that’s like, “I want you. You’re so attractive. You’re the most desirable man in the world.”

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: It’s the same look that strippers in the strip clubs have perfected. Now, backstage, I’ve interviewed a lot of those women, and they’re like, “A bunch of patsies!” They’re using it; they’re turning it on!

Brian: They know.

Shaunti: But they turn it on, and every man knows that’s counterfeit. He wants to feel that from his wife.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: Now, okay. I can tell you that a lot of the women just thought, “Okay! I am not doing that stuff in the bedroom!”

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: No, no, no. That’s not what I mean. It’s the message. It’s, “I want to be with you.”

Brian: And I think that’s brilliant—what you just said there. The reason why the women are looking at men that way is because they’re paid. If men could realize they’re being manipulated, you know?

Shaunti: Yes. It might help.

Brian: It might help, and we’ll get into that in that podcast, when we talk about why “good guys” love porn. It is this sense that it’s like McDonald’s. “I know that I’m hungry, but I’ll settle for counterfeit or cheap or bad nutrition, because I’m just hungry. I know that it won’t ultimately satisfy. It tastes good for a little bit, and then, afterwards, I feel a little sick (about an hour later). But I’m willing to eat that, if that’s all that I have.”

Shaunti: And it’s so important for us to say out loud—because I know there are some women who are listening to this and getting twitchy, like, “Are you excusing poor behavior just because I’m not available to my husband sexually?” No! No, of course not.

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: Of course not! So, please, that’s really important for whoever is on the ledge right now. Step away from the ledge. It is really crucial, though, for us to own something as women; as wives.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: For us to be willing to own--whether you like this idea or not—that for a huge percentage of men, this is as much of an emotional need in his heart of hearts, and in every fiber of his being; to feel desired by his wife is as much of an emotional need as your need to feel like, at the end of a long day, he wants to hear what happened with you and to talk and connect heart-to-heart in a conversation.

I had a good friend from graduate school who got married, you know, fairly quickly out of graduate school. You know, he was a wonderful guy and they were a wonderful couple. Right after they got married, he basically stopped talking to her. She would say, over breakfast, “So what’s going on?”

“Oh, nothing.” You know, at the end of the day, she would try to engage him in conversation and he would be so tired. She was literally lonely, living in the house with this man. I know some women listening to this know exactly what that feels like.

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: It’s the lack of this heart-to-heart connection. It’s loneliness. And that is how men feel when they don’t have the sexual connection with their wives.

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: It’s this incredible sense of emotional loneliness. One of the reasons for that is there is a way we’re wired—I believe we’re created by God—where, actually, there’s a hormonal reason behind that.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: Literally, there are chemicals that are called “bonding chemicals.”

Brian: Oxytocin, right?

Shaunti: Exactly.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: They’re released in a woman’s body and brain at many different times of connection. They’ve found, for example, that oxytocin is released a lot when she’s breastfeeding a baby.

Brian: Sure.

Shaunti: It’s this bonding thing. You feel this incredible love and this incredible connection and this softness toward this other person.

Brian: Which, by the way—and I hate to interrupt, but—that’s why I probably never felt bonded to my kids when they were that young.

Shaunti: That young. Exactly! You didn’t have that oxytocin.

Brian: “You’re not responding to me. You’re not smiling at my jokes. I’m throwing you a ball, and you’re not even catching it! I know you’re two months old, but. . .”

Shaunti: “But still!”

Brian: So I’m not bonding. That chemical gets released when a woman is breastfeeding.

Shaunti: When a woman is breastfeeding, yes. It also gets released when she’s having a deep conversation with her husband or a good friend. It’s this sense of, “I’m feeling really close to you. I’m feeling really connected. We’re having this heart-to-heart, emotional connection.”

That is released in many different ways in women, and it is released in men one time, and that is when they’re having sex with their wives.

Brian: That’s it?

Shaunti: That’s it. That’s the only time it’s released in men.

Brian: Wow.

Shaunti: Now, I’m sure there are a few exceptions to that, right?

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: But, in general, that’s the only time it’s released. And now, suddenly, there are a lot of women who just slapped their forehead and said, “Oh!!” Most of us have noticed that a grumpy husband who--no offense, but sometimes you guys have the black cloud of doom following you around the house, you know?

Brian: Really? I don’t know what you’re talking about!

Shaunti: We have noticed that sometimes he can be frustrated, or he can be grumpy. But when we’ve had that intimate time together, he’s so—you know, the next day, he’s so—soft, and he just wants to hug or is cuddly.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: “Can we talk?” Maybe not saying it quite like that, but—

Brian: Right! There’s an openness.

Shaunti: There’s an openness. And that’s one of the main reasons why: he’s feeling so close to you. This is also one of the reasons for this big mismatch that women have. We want to feel close outside the bedroom first.

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: In order to want to be close inside the bedroom.

Brian: I know. So wives, right now, are listening and thinking, “Okay, when are you going to do the podcast for men that’s going to say, ‘Connect with her first and then maybe she’ll be more open!’”

Shaunti: Absolutely! And, you know, what—do you mind if we talk through what is really going on for us as women?

Brian: No.

Shaunti: Because, actually, a lot of women don’t know this either, I’ve found.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: To help our husbands understand that; that, actually, was one of two main reasons why the women said that they didn’t want to connect sexually (if he wanted more than she did). Like we said, that’s not universal, right?

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: There are plenty of exceptions.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: But one of the reasons is not feeling close outside the bedroom. Another reason, actually, is purely a physiological reason, believe it or not. It’s literally that there are two different types of desire, and men usually only experience one: it’s called “assertive desire,” and it’s tied to testosterone.

Brian: Okay.

Shaunti: It’s the desire to pursue sex, and to initiate it, and to think about it all of the time.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: And, most importantly, probably, to be ready at a moment’s notice.

Brian: Right!

Shaunti: That’s “assertive desire.” It’s tied to testosterone, and some women have that, too. So that’s the only type of desire that men think exists!

Brian: Exactly.

Shaunti: There’s a different type of desire, though. It’s called “receptive desire.” It tends to be tied to estrogen, although there are plenty of men who are the ones with receptive desire as well.

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: Like we said, there are plenty of people who are switched on this. But someone who has “receptive desire” is just as willing or just as interested, hypothetically (out there in the universe), but isn’t thinking about it all of the time, and isn’t ready at a moment’s notice, right?

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: And someone who has “receptive desire” has to be approached differently. And we have to help our husbands understand that. We basically need to know what he’s got on his menu for the evening before we get to the bedroom.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: That sort of—we call it “anticipation time”—You know, “Honey, it helps when you, over breakfast, say something flirty, like, ‘How tired are you going to be tonight?’”

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: You know, some cute little flirty comment, just so she’s thinking about it.

Brian: So that would be great. Give some cliff notes. Obviously, I’m interested, as a guy, to know.

Shaunti: I saw you taking some notes over there!

Brian: I am taking some notes! So I’m interested as a guy, thinking, “How do I help my wife? How do I connect so that she wants to connect with me?” But I’m sure there are going to be women listening and thinking, “But you’re not talking to my husband, so how can I share in such a way . . . ?”

Shaunti: Right, exactly.

Brian: So, “Help me talk to my husband about this.”

Shaunti: The hurdle that men are going to need to get over that women need to help their men get over—

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: The hurdle that men have is this—and I think it’s a cultural idea—“Well, the men in the movies never need to give anticipation time!”

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: This is my husband’s actual words (the guy thinks): “If I’m enough of a stud, she wouldn’t be tired.” They think—you know, we talk about anticipation time. Guys automatically get this kind of alarmed look on their face. They’re like, “You mean, I need to warn her?! That doesn’t feel so good!” Because, again, it’s all about feeling desired.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: “And that sure doesn’t feel like I’m very desirable!”

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: So the way that we advise women is to be very careful with this conversation, knowing that he’s going to feel like that doesn’t equal desirability.

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: Say, “No, literally, this is a physiological difference. This is a way that God has wired women and men differently (on purpose, apparently!).”

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: It takes it off the table. “It’s not about your desirability. It’s about my physical difference. I need to know what you’re thinking. I need to know well in advance. I need to know that morning when you make”—

You know, one of the things that Jeff did when we were learning some of this is—I can’t remember what it was that he had done one morning; it was really sweet, and I said, you know, “Thanks so much for doing that!” And he said, “Oh, just remember that later tonight.”

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: And I thought, that’s a perfect example. It was just a little, flirty comment, but it got me thinking about it. So, telling our husbands, “Just help us start thinking about it.”

Brian: I know, for me, one of the things that I do with Jen is just send her a text saying, “Hey, are you going to be home for lunch today?”

Shaunti: Yes, really!

Brian: I know the kids are in school.

Shaunti: Exactly.

Brian: It’s just planting that seed.

Shaunti: Now, you know that your daughter—your kids—would be horrified to hear this, right?

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: They would say, “Dadddd!”

Brian: Yes, yes. They’re never going to listen to this podcast (I hope).

Shaunti: Well, there you go.

Brian: They’re going to see the title and say, “I don’t want to hear my dad talk about sex!”

Shaunti: Exactly!

Brian: “I’ve already done that enough!”

Shaunti: Yes. But that’s a good example; perfect example. It’s just some little comment.

Brian: Yes. So it’s showing, number one, helping my husband to understand that I need anticipation time. It’s like, “Hey, I want to be there for you. I want to meet that need.”

Shaunti: “And I want to have that relationship myself!” Right?

Brian: Right. So “I’m going to talk with him about building some anticipation time.” What else can a wife do to think, “How can I help my husband in that?” What’s going on right now with a lot of wives and husbands is the husband is saying, “Why don’t you desire me?”

Shaunti: Right.

Brian: And the wife’s saying, “It’s not that I don’t desire you. It’s just that I’m tired.”

Shaunti: “I’m tired.” And that’s the other thing: for us to help our men understand that, honestly, if we’re already in bed, we’re exhausted. It is almost impossible—not impossible—for us to pull ourselves out of it without this huge force of will, which is not what a guy wants. He wants her to say, “I can rally!”

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: You know, the same way he can. But recognizing that’s just not us. So that’s the argument for anticipation time, obviously. But one of the most important things for us, as women, to know is when he has reached out and we’re tired, and we’re lying there, and it’s like, “I’ve got nothing. I’m so exhausted right now”—recognize that it’s not like this selfish demand, and it’s not like you have to meet that need. I mean, you’ve got needs, too. He has to understand you, but recognize that when you say, “No,” it hurts.

It actually stings.

The way that guys described it is that there is no more vulnerable time in my life than when I’m approaching my wife for intimacy. For us to recognize, if we can meet that, then—oh, my gosh—that has huge things to say to him! If we can’t, recognize that you’re responding to a pretty tender heart at that point.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: Say, “I would not be fair to you. Can we make a date for tomorrow night?”

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: You know, something like that.

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: “I want to be with you, but I would not be fair to you right now.”

Brian: And I’m looking forward to the podcast about how we’re wired differently, because I think it’s going to bring up some of this, but I think it goes back to the whole thing. I’ve always believed science catches up to Scripture. You know?

Shaunti: Yes! That’s great.

Brian: You know, we always end at proving Scripture. When you read the Song of Solomon, and you read the back-and-forth between husband and wife, it’s interesting how they even, back then, speak to the inner needs. Solomon is praising the wife’s beauty; helping her feel cherished and loved. He’s speaking to her before he ever undresses her, which most men don’t even think about, right? Most men are just thinking, “I just want to get it on. I’m not doing any of the building or the anticipation time.”

But, for the wife, when you look at Song of Solomon, it seems like she is talking about how—

Shaunti: How studly he is!

Brian: How studly he is. “He’s great among 10,000!” Well, we know that’s not true. Whoever the guy was, he’s probably not better than 10,000 people. He didn’t have abs of alabaster like a six-pack. I’m sure he had a keg, you know? [Laughter] She’s lying the whole time, but she’s building his need of, “I want to be desired.”

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: And, “I want to be compared to other men; that I’m better than them.”

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: And speaking to that—as science always tends to catch up with Scripture—I think this speaks to this idea that, if God put us together with two different wirings, and that if we’re really a picture of Christ and the Church, we’re to look out for the interest of others.

You wrote in your book about how most women have an intuitive sense to meet everybody else’s needs in the family, except maybe this need. This one seems to be the “tack on.”

Shaunti: Yes, and it’s one of the most important emotional needs for the marriage, and therefore, for you and for the whole family. It’s extremely central!

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: And that’s why we’re spending the time on this, even though it’s one of those things that women are like, “Really? Really? You’re going to talk to me about that? Really?!”

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: But, honestly, everybody’s curious why this is such a big deal, and recognizing that this is why. It’s a totally different need than you thought it was.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: It’s this huge emotional core for men.

Brian: So, if you could maybe wrap up, speaking to that wife who is saying, “Okay, now that I know that it’s a need, and I see how it is because it’s meeting an emotional need and not just a physical need, I want to start meeting it. I want to be bonded to my husband.” [In addition to] building anticipation time, is there anything else that you would recommend to the wife who’s sitting there saying, “We’re just not connected right now.”

“So are you telling me to just pursue this and to do this?”

Shaunti: Yes! [Laughter] Hey, listen! I’ve been there, too. Right? There are seasons where it’s like, “You know, I’m just not feeling very close to you right now, and I’m really kind of busy. I feel like you’ve been disconnected.”

There are plenty of women who’ll say, “And he’s really selfish.”

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: Listen, I get all of that! However, what we have found is that one of the keys to solving all of that is to actually pursue him in this way.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: You noticed I said “pursue him,” not just “respond to him.”

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: Because that is the one thing that speaks the most to, “This is how I feel about you.” Not just, “Okay, I’m willing;” not just, “Okay, I’ll be engaged if you’re interested.”

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: But actually make the first move once in a while. If your husband is like most men--and, again, there are some exceptions, but for those people who are in the majority for these kinds of situations—if your husband is like most men, that will not just surprise him, but delight him.

The other thing that you will find, and this is something we’ve found in our own marriage, and that science has found is actually an incredibly important thing for women to know is that, as you take those steps, if you will engage sexually with your husband once per week, it keeps your testosterone level up.

Now, most women might be thinking, “What?!” A lot of women don’t know that we have testosterone in our bodies, too. Everybody has testosterone. It’s not just men. That’s one of the key regulators of libido. If you have sex at least once a week, it keeps your testosterone—for most people—at a self-sustaining level. Then you’re more interested in it, so the next time he approaches you, you say, “Okay, cool!” You know? So now you’ve had sex again, so your testosterone is a little bit higher, and the next time there’s a thought, you say, “Okay, cool!” It keeps it at the self-sustaining level.

Once it drops below about once per week, what they’ve found is that you can measure the drop in testosterone levels, and what that means is when he’s approaching you, you think, “Really!?”

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: Because you’re just not interested at all. The reason you’re not interested is that your testosterone levels have dropped (by definition). So if you will just take that step, and make a choice to do that, and to do that once a week, you will soon learn it’s no longer a choice; it’s something you want and something you’re interested in, because, now, you’ve gotten back up to this point where it is self-sustaining.

It is going to take—probably for a lot of women listening to this, it is going to take—a choice, but I really hope that once they make that choice a few times regularly, that they’ll see the difference in their man.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: They’ll see the delight; they’ll see the softness; they’ll see the love, you know?

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: They’ll see some of those good things coming toward them. It will make it easier.

Brian: And that’s the whole thing, right? We all want great marriages, but all too often, we don’t want to work at it. We don’t want to make the sacrifice it’s going to take to get there; but, when you do, it’s amazing that what I hear you saying is even in your bodies, the chemicals in your bodies respond to make you want to bond more (which is really what’s at the heart).

All of us—it’s not like we’re looking at each other. . . We keep pointing the finger, and saying, “You’re the reason why this marriage isn’t working.”

Shaunti: It’s so easy to do that, though.

Brian: “You’re the reason why;” “You’re not desirable;” and “You’re not this (or that);” as opposed to saying, “Okay, how can I trust, and maybe take a step that doesn’t feel right.” But, as I heard somebody say, “It’s easier to act your way into a new kind of feeling than to feel your way into a new kind of acting.”

Shaunti: That is brilliant!

Brian: So if you’re making a choice to act—

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: I’m sure I didn’t say it. I stole it, but it is easier to act your way into a new kind of feeling. The feelings will follow. That’s really what you want.

We’re going to close up here, but to the woman who is sitting there thinking, “I’d give anything for my husband to want to be pursued,” is there any advice you would give to her?

Shaunti: You know, that is a whole different conversation, honestly.

Brian: Okay.

Shaunti: The good news is that there is a way of addressing it, and it really, honestly is—the starting point is—recognizing that he’s the one with the receptive desire. Right? He is the reverse of this.

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: And the numbers actually weren’t—I think it wasn’t. . . .It doesn’t match with the 75%. It’s something like 15-20% of men have that receptive desire. It’s not a tiny number.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: It’s actually a pretty large minority. It’s not like 2%, right?

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: But because that does exist, to some degree, that anticipation time and all the things that we were talking about, are things that you can apply with him in helping him understand the emotional importance of this to you.

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: Because that is going to be a mismatch in some marriages.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: We actually--on our website, one of our most popular blogs is this massive article that we had a sex therapist write for this. It’s a multi-part article about when you’re the one who has the higher libido.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: It gets some of the highest clicks on our website. . .

Brian: Sure.

Shaunti: . . . because it is a big deal.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: You know, we can’t go into the details here. Maybe we can do another podcast on that at some point.

Brian: Make sure you check out the blog!

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: That’s at

Shaunti: Yes, that’s at

You know, we can probably do another conversation on this at some point, but just the starting point is that, if that’s you, to realize he’s the one with receptive desire. Approach him that way, and don’t expect him to be other than how God has made him to be.

Brian: Yes. Well, this has been a great first question to ask: Why does my husband desire sex so much? And, really, what I feel like we’ve talked about is, why does your husband desire to be pursued?

Shaunti: Yes, great point.

Brian: And every wife would sit there saying, “Wait! I feel the same thing. I want to be pursued.” So if you could think—what I feel like you’ve done for us is show that it’s not just about sex.

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: It’s really [that] your husband longs to be wanted just like you do. It’s just that he really feels it in this area of his life.

I heard one man say to his wife—well, I wasn’t there! That would be really awkward. Later, the wife told me that the husband, after sex one night, said, “You know, when you make love to me, it feels like an emotional salve on my soul.” I don’t think most women think of it that way; that that’s what he’s really wanting.

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: We’ve sensationalized everything in Hollywood, with the whole thing of “women are always ready in Hollywood.” That’s just not it! For men, it’s not that they want sex. They want to be pursued, and they want to have that bonding and to know that somebody longs for them, to really heal their heart, which we’ll talk about in another podcast. Why is it that men seem so insecure?

But, Shaunti, thank you so much. Any parting words before we close up?

Shaunti: Just, honestly, with this one, it is the perfect example of: Try it! You’re going to have to make a choice, but you will see the results. It will be the best possible incentive to continue!

Brian: Absolutely, and that’s really what we long for. We’d like to see your marriage thrive, and for you to be bonded with your husband. So, as we wrap up this first episode of Married With Benefits we want to be an encouragement to you. I bet there’s a couple ways that you’re actually winning in this area, so don’t beat yourself up. Just think about one or two things that you’re really doing well here, and keep doing those things.

But I’d also ask you: what’s the one thing that makes you say, “Man, I need to improve there. I really want to apply that to my life this week”? Just pick that one thing, and see what happens in your marriage. I bet it will take a turn for the better.

Shaunti, it was a pleasure kicking off our first podcast together. That was a lot of fun.

Shaunti: That was! It was awesome.

Brian: We here at FamilyLife, we are passionate about you experiencing oneness in the key relationships of your life. If you need more help and hope, we’ve got it at

By the way, we wanted to also let you know that this podcast is listener supported. So, we appreciate many gifts from people like yourself. If you’re interested in donating today you can do that there at Just click the word “donate.”

I’d love to give a special word of thanks to our producer, James Youngblood, or as we like to call him, CJ3 and our project coordinator, Page Johnson for helping to pull this off. We couldn’t do it without their help.

Have you ever wondered, “Why is my husband so touchy or sensitive when I give him criticism?” That’s the question we are going to tackle next.

I’m Brian Goins. Seeking to help you love the one you’re with. See you next time.